By Jay Ledesma
WE'RE six weeks away to ending the year 2020 which we can all agree was not that kind to the Philippines.
In the span of 12 months, we have seen the bad and the ugly that can happen to a country.
Just as we were starting 2020, Taalvolcano erupted. That fateful day of Jan 12, about 43 years from its last eruption in 1977, Taal Volcano spewed ashes across Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and some areas of Central Luzon. Lives were claimed, properties damaged and economic activities disrupted. Sometime in March, we got reports of another African Swine Fever outbreak in several parts of Luzon, resulting in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of pigs in the affected areas. And then we have the COVID-19 pandemic, which almost brought our country to a standstill and changed our economic landscape. Quarantines, lockdowns, health protocols, and other new normal became part of our everyday lives. With the rapid spread of the virus, more lives were claimed and economic slump everywhere.
As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, our country experienced the wrath of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, which severely hit and damaged Bicol, Cagayan/Isabela, and Marikina. As of this writing, relief operations and rehabilitation efforts are still underway in these areas. We pray hard that these will be the last of the “bads” we will have this year.
With these bad events, come the ugly things. During this time when all hands should be on deck, we still see political bickering, blame game, disconcerted efforts, and silo mentality among our government leaders. Everyone wants to claim credits, wants to grandstand…epal is very much around. But no one is taking responsibility and accountability for what went wrong. Right in front of our eyes, unfolds the inefficiency and insensitivity of some government officials. Our front-liners did not immediately get the support and protection they needed because some officials were sleeping in their jobs. Those who were supposed to implement protocols were the first to violate. Yet they wonder why the regular Juan dela Cruz will not follow. And guess what, they’re still very much in the position.
What is bad becomes worse because of such ugliness.
But not everything that happened is all bad and ugly. Amidst the pandemic, the typhoons, the political grandstanding, and inefficiencies, we see the beauty of the Filipino spirit. We see concern, kindness, and generosity from those who were always ready to help and share their money, time, and other resources with the needy. The outpouring of donations for what seems like an unending stream of misfortunes for some of our countrymen is truly inspiring. Private individuals acting alone or coming together to initiate drives/campaigns on behalf of those who need help. Mostly, working sans the limelight.
We see the dedication and selflessness of our front liners, risking their own health and lives all in the name of duty. Daily, they brave the risk of contracting the virus and endangering themselves and their family members. Some are forced to be separated from their loved ones for fear of exposing them to the virus. But they do all these sacrifices so that others may get better and live safely.
We saw again how resilient and agile Filipinos are. With movements and face to face interactions restricted, Companies and individuals fast-tracked their e-commerce capabilities and adapted to the online platforms. Now, almost 80% of the workforce is under the work from home set up while e-commerce transactions grew by more than 3 digits during the pandemic. Even schools are in virtual space.
The decisiveness and quick thinking and action of some government personalities are what we needed during these crises. The introduction and implementation of the Bayanihan Acts 1 and 2 by Sec Sonny Dominguez and his economic team did not only allow us to stay afloat during the pandemic but put us in a better position to bounce back post-pandemic.
The action man that he is, IATF Deputy Chief ImplementerVince Dizon brought actionable strategies and programs to the team which significantly improved our COVID testing and contract tracing capability, expanded our isolation facilities which resulted in the lowering of new COVID cases in most parts of the country.
Indeed, when we look back to the year 2020, it is with certainty that we will remember the bad COVID, Taal, Rolly, and Ulysses. We may also remember the ugly bickering, grandstanding, and inefficiencies.
But, let’s all be mindful that it’s also in the year 2020 when we saw in its truest form the spirit to live and thrive among the Filipinos!
About the Columnist
Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.